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Media Studies

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  1. 22.1 hrs • 7/12/2016 • Unabridged

    Giving voice to the voiceless, the Chicago Defender condemned Jim Crow, catalyzed the Great Migration, and focused the electoral power of black America. Robert S. Abbott founded the Defender in 1905, smuggled hundreds of thousands of copies into the most isolated communities in the segregated South, and was dubbed a “Modern Moses,” becoming one of the first black millionaires in the process. His successor wielded the newspaper’s clout to elect mayors and presidents, including Harry S. Truman and John F. Kennedy, who would have lost in 1960 if not for the Defender’s support. Along the way, its pages were filled with columns by legends like Ida B. Wells, Langston Hughes, and Martin Luther King Jr. Drawing on dozens of interviews and extensive archival research, Ethan Michaeli constructs a revelatory narrative of race in America from the age of Teddy Roosevelt to the age of Barack Obama and brings to life the reporters who braved lynch mobs and policemen’s clubs to do their jobs.

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    The Defender by Ethan Michaeli

    The Defender

    22.1 hrs • 7/12/16 • Unabridged
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  2. 7.4 hrs • 6/7/2016 • Unabridged

    Just as Susan Sontag did for photography and Marshall McLuhan did for television, Virginia Heffernan (called one of the “best living writers of English prose”) reveals the logic and aesthetics behind the Internet. Since its inception, the Internet has morphed from merely an extension of traditional media into its own full-fledged civilization. It is among mankind’s great masterpieces—a massive work of art. As an idea, it rivals monotheism. We all inhabit this fascinating place. But its deep logic, its cultural potential, and its societal impact often elude us. In this deep and thoughtful book, Virginia Heffernan presents an original and far-reaching analysis of what the Internet is and does. Life online, in the highly visual, social, portable, and global incarnation rewards certain virtues. The new medium favors speed, accuracy, wit, prolificacy, and versatility, and its form and functions are changing how we perceive, experience, and understand the world.

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    Magic and Loss

    Read by Candace Thaxton, with introduction read by Virginia Heffernan
    7.4 hrs • 6/7/16 • Unabridged
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  3. 7.8 hrs • 5/17/2016 • Unabridged

    Music critic Steven Hyden explores nineteen music rivalries and what they say about life Beatles vs. Stones. Biggie vs. Tupac. Kanye vs. Taylor. Who do you choose? And what does that say about you? Actually--what do these endlessly argued-about pop music rivalries say about us? Music opinions bring out passionate debate in people, and Steven Hyden knows that firsthand. Each chapter in YOUR FAVORITE BAND IS KILLING ME focuses on a pop music rivalry, from the classic to the very recent, and draws connections to the larger forces surrounding the pairing. Through Hendrix vs. Clapton, Hyden explores burning out and fading away, while his take on Miley vs. Sinead gives readers a glimpse into the perennial battle between old and young. Funny and accessible, Hyden's writing combines cultural criticism, personal anecdotes, and music history--and just may prompt you to give your least favorite band another chance.

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    Your Favorite Band Is Killing Me

    7.8 hrs • 5/17/16 • Unabridged
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  4. 14.8 hrs • 2/23/2016 • Unabridged

    Instagram. Whisper. Yik Yak. Vine. YouTube. Kik. Ask.fm. Tinder. The dominant force in the lives of girls coming of age in America today is social media. What it is doing to an entire generation of young women is the subject of award-winning Vanity Fair writer Nancy Jo Sales’ riveting and explosive American Girls With extraordinary intimacy and precision, Sales captures what it feels like to be a girl in America today. From Montclair to Manhattan and Los Angeles, from Florida and Arizona to Texas and Kentucky, Sales crisscrossed the country, speaking to more than two hundred girls, ages thirteen to nineteen, and documenting a massive change in the way girls are growing up, a phenomenon that transcends race, geography, and household income. American Girls provides a disturbing portrait of the end of childhood as we know it and of the inexorable and ubiquitous experience of a new kind of adolescence—one dominated by new social and sexual norms, where a girl’s first crushes and experiences of longing and romance occur in an accelerated electronic environment; where issues of identity and self-esteem are magnified and transformed by social platforms that provide instantaneous judgment. What does it mean to be a girl in America in 2016? It means coming of age online in a hypersexualized culture that has normalized extreme behavior, from pornography to the casual exchange of nude photographs; a culture rife with a virulent new strain of sexism and a sometimes self-undermining notion of feminist empowerment; a culture in which teenagers are spending so much time on technology and social media that they are not developing basic communication skills. From beauty gurus to slut-shaming to a disconcerting trend of exhibitionism, Nancy Jo Sales provides a shocking window into the troubling world of today’s teenage girls. Provocative and urgent, American Girls is destined to ignite a much-needed conversation about how we can help our daughters and sons negotiate unprecedented new challenges.

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    American Girls

    14.8 hrs • 2/23/16 • Unabridged
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  5. 7.0 hrs • 2/1/2016 • Unabridged

    Feature films, television shows, homemade videos, tweets, blogs, and breaking news: digital media offer an always-accessible, apparently inexhaustible supply of entertainment and information. Although choices seems endless, public attention is not. How do digital media find the audiences they need in an era of infinite choice? In The Marketplace of Attention, James Webster explains how audiences take shape in the digital age. Webster describes the factors that create audiences, including the preferences and habits of media users, the role of social networks, the resources and strategies of media providers, and the growing impact of media measures—from ratings to user recommendations. He incorporates these factors into one comprehensive framework: the marketplace of attention. In doing so, he shows that the marketplace works in ways that belie our greatest hopes and fears about digital media. Some observers claim that digital media empower a new participatory culture; others fear that digital media encourage users to retreat to isolated enclaves. Webster shows that public attention is at once diverse and concentrated, that users move across a variety of outlets, producing high levels of audience overlap. So although audiences are fragmented in ways that would astonish mid-century broadcasting executives, Webster argues that this doesn’t signal polarization. He questions whether our preferences are immune from media influence, and he describes how our encounters with media might change our tastes. In the digital era’s marketplace of attention, Webster claims, we typically encounter ideas that cut across our predispositions. In the process, we will remake the marketplace of ideas and reshape the twenty-first-century public sphere.

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    The Marketplace of Attention

    7.0 hrs • 2/1/16 • Unabridged
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  6. 9.1 hrs • 1/12/2016 • Unabridged

    A smart, lively history of the Internet free culture movement and its larger effects on society—and the life and shocking suicide of Aaron Swartz, a founding developer of Reddit and Creative Commons—from Slate correspondent Justin Peters. Aaron Swartz was a zealous young advocate for the free exchange of information and creative content online. He committed suicide in 2013 after being indicted by the government for illegally downloading millions of academic articles from a nonprofit online database. From the age of fifteen, when Swartz, a computer prodigy, worked with Lawrence Lessig to launch Creative Commons, to his years as a fighter for copyright reform and open information, to his work leading the protests against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), to his posthumous status as a cultural icon, Swartz’s life was inextricably connected to the free culture movement. Now Justin Peters examines Swartz’s life in the context of two hundred years of struggle over the control of information. In vivid, accessible prose, The Idealist situates Swartz in the context of other “data moralists” past and present, from lexicographer Noah Webster to ebook pioneer Michael Hart to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. In the process, the book explores the history of copyright statutes and the public domain; examines archivists’ ongoing quest to build the “library of the future”; and charts the rise of open access, copyleft, and other ideologies that have come to challenge protectionist IP policies. Peters also breaks down the government’s case against Swartz and explains how we reached the point where federally funded academic research came to be considered private property, and downloading that material in bulk came to be considered a federal crime. The Idealist is an important investigation of the fate of the digital commons in an increasingly corporatized Internet, and an essential look at the impact of the free culture movement on our daily lives and on generations to come.

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    The Idealist

    9.1 hrs • 1/12/16 • Unabridged
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  7. 13.2 hrs • 10/6/2015 • Unabridged

    Renowned media scholar Sherry Turkle investigates how a flight from conversation undermines our relationships, creativity, and productivity—and why reclaiming face-to-face conversation can help us regain lost ground. We live in a technological universe in which we are always communicating. And yet we have sacrificed conversation for mere connection. Preeminent author and researcher Sherry Turkle has been studying digital culture for over thirty years. Long an enthusiast for its possibilities, here she investigates a troubling consequence: at work, at home, in politics, and in love, we find ways around conversation, tempted by the possibilities of a text or an email in which we don’t have to look, listen, or reveal ourselves. We develop a taste for what mere connection offers. The dinner table falls silent as children compete with phones for their parents’ attention. Friends learn strategies to keep conversations going when only a few people are looking up from their phones. At work, we retreat to our screens although it is conversation at the water cooler that increases not only productivity but commitment to work. Online, we only want to share opinions that our followers will agree with—a politics that shies away from the real conflicts and solutions of the public square. The case for conversation begins with the necessary conversations of solitude and self-reflection. They are endangered: these days, always connected, we see loneliness as a problem that technology should solve. Afraid of being alone, we rely on other people to give us a sense of ourselves, and our capacity for empathy and relationship suffers. We see the costs of the flight from conversation everywhere: conversation is the cornerstone for democracy and in business it is good for the bottom line. In the private sphere, it builds empathy, friendship, love, learning, and productivity. But there is good news: we are resilient. Conversation cures. Based on five years of research and interviews in homes, schools, and the workplace, Turkle argues that we have come to a better understanding of where our technology can and cannot take us and that the time is right to reclaim conversation. The most human and humanizing thing that we do. The virtues of person-to-person conversation are timeless, and our most basic technology, talk, responds to our modern challenges. We have everything we need to start, we have each other.

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    Reclaiming Conversation

    13.2 hrs • 10/6/15 • Unabridged
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  8. 8.2 hrs • 5/11/2015 • Unabridged

    Lifelong liberal Kirsten Powers blasts the Left’s forced march towards conformity in an exposé of the illiberal war on free speech. No longer champions of tolerance and free speech, the “illiberal Left” now viciously attacks and silences anyone with alternative points of view. Powers asks, “Whatever happened to free speech in America?”

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    The Silencing

    8.2 hrs • 5/11/15 • Unabridged
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    19.0 hrs • 10/14/2014 • Unabridged

    The dynamic and always controversial television producer shares fifty years of show business and politics, with all the candor and wisdom expected from the creator of All in the Family. The legendary creator of iconic television programs All in the Family, Sanford and Son, Maude, Good Times, The Jeffersons, and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Norman Lear remade our television culture—while leading a life of unparalleled political, civic, and social involvement. Sharing the wealth of Lear’s ninety years, Even This I Get to Experience is a memoir as touching and remarkable as the life he has led. In the 1970s, Lear’s comedies were viewed by 120 million people per week, with stories that reflected the most serious issues of their lives and still left them howling. But before this, Lear led a charmed life throughout postwar Hollywood’s golden years, befriending the likes of Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks; writing and directing Frank Sinatra, Robert Redford, Dick Van Dyke, and Martha Raye; becoming the highest-paid comic writer in the country while working for Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin. Norman Lear also flew some fifty bombing missions over Germany with the Fifteenth Air Force. Shamelessly in love with the country the Founding Fathers laid out for him while his own father was serving time, Lear won the first American Legion Oratorical Contest speaking about the Constitution. He later founded People for the American Way, a national organization to protect the civil rights and liberties of us all, and bought an original copy of the Declaration of Independence, printed the night of July 4, 1776, not to hang on a wall in his home but to travel across the country to schools, and libraries, and public institutions to be shared with citizens everywhere. Married three times and the father of six children ranging from nineteen to sixty-eight, Lear’s penetrating look at family life, parenthood, and marriage is a volume in itself. Told with the charm and candor of one of the century’s greatest storytellers, Even This I Get to Experience is nothing less than a profound gift, endlessly readable and characteristically unforgettable.

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    Even This I Get to Experience

    19.0 hrs • 10/14/14 • Unabridged
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  10. 17.3 hrs • 9/30/2014 • Unabridged

    A provocative look at the three remarkable women who revolutionized television broadcast news For decades, women battered the walls of the male fortress of television journalism, until finally three—Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, and Christiane Amanpour—broke through, definitively remaking America’s nightly news. Drawing on exclusive interviews with their colleagues and intimates from childhood on, bestselling author Sheila Weller crafts a lively and eye-opening narrative, revealing the combination of ambition, skill, and character that enabled these three singular women to infiltrate the once impenetrable “boys club” and become cultural icons. Raised in Louisville, Kentucky, Diane Sawyer was a driven, elegant young woman in a time of societal upheaval. Her fierce intellect, almost insuperable work ethic, and mysterious emotional intelligence would catapult Sawyer from being the first female on-air correspondent for 60 Minutes to presenting heartbreaking specials on child poverty in America while anchoring the network flagship, ABC World News Tonight. Katie Couric, always conveniently underestimated because of her girl-next-door demeanor, brazened her way through a succession of regional TV news jobs until she finally hit it big in New York. In 1991, Couric became the Today show cohost, where over the next fifteen years she transformed the “female” slot from secondary to preeminent. Couric’s greatest triumph—and most bedeviling challenge—was inheriting the mantle of Walter Cronkite at CBS Evening News, as the first woman ever to anchor a prestigious nighttime network news program. A glamorous but unorthodox cosmopolite—the daughter of a British Catholic mother and Iranian Muslim father—Christiane Amanpour made a virtue of her outsider status. She joined the fledgling CNN on the bottom rung and then became its “face” catalyzing its rise to global prominence. Her fearlessness in war zones and before presidents and despots would make her the world’s witness to some of its most acute crises and television’s chief advocate for international justice. The News Sorority takes us behind the scenes as never before to track Sawyer’s, Couric’s, and Amanpour’s ascendance to the highest ranks of the media elite, showing that the compelling desire to report the news—a drive born of curiosity, empathy, and humanity—must be matched by guts, awesome competitive fervor, and rare strategic savvy.

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    The News Sorority

    17.3 hrs • 9/30/14 • Unabridged
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  11. 9.0 hrs • 7/8/2014 • Unabridged

    Facts are and must be the coin of the realm in a democracy. Unfortunately, for citizens in the United States and throughout the world, distinguishing between fact and fiction—always a formidable challenge—is now more difficult than ever, as a constant stream of questionable information pours into media outlets. In The Future of Truth, Charles Lewis reminds us of the history of public dishonesty in the United States, from President Lyndon B. Johnson’s cover-up of the real motives behind the Vietnam War, to George W. Bush’s public rationales for military action in Iraq and Afghanistan, and how courageous investigative journalists stood up to power to bring truth to light. He then explores the implications for today: what are the root causes and consequences of this kind of mass deception? Lewis argues forcefully that while data points and factoids abound, it is much harder to get to the whole truth of complex issues in time for that truth to guide citizens, voters, and decision-makers.

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    935 Lies

    9.0 hrs • 7/8/14 • Unabridged
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  12. 0 reviews 0 5 4 4 out of 5 stars 4/5
    17.6 hrs • 1/16/2014 • Unabridged

    A deeply reported journey inside the secretive world of Fox News and the life of its combative, visionary founder When Rupert Murdoch enlisted Roger Ailes to launch a cable news network in 1996, American politics and media changed forever. Now, with a remarkable level of detail and insight, New York magazine reporter Gabriel Sherman brings Ailes’ unique genius to life, along with the outsize personalities—Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Megyn Kelly, Sarah Palin, Karl Rove, Glenn Beck, Mike Huckabee, and others—who have helped Fox News play a defining role in the great social and political controversies of the past two decades. From the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal to the Bush-Gore recount, from the war in Iraq to the Tea Party attack on the Obama presidency, Roger Ailes has developed an unrivaled power to sway the national agenda. Even more, he has become the indispensable figure in conservative America and the man any Republican politician with presidential aspirations must court. How did this man, whose life story has until now been shrouded in myth, become the master strategist of our political landscape? In revelatory detail, Sherman chronicles the rise of Ailes, a sickly kid from an Ohio factory town who, through sheer willpower, the flair of a showman, fierce corporate politicking, and a profound understanding of the priorities of middle America built the most influential television news empire of our time. Drawing on hundreds of interviews with Fox News insiders past and present, Sherman documents Ailes’ tactical acuity as he battles the press, business rivals, and countless real and perceived enemies inside and outside Fox. Sherman takes us inside the morning meetings in which Ailes and other high-level executives strategize Fox’s presentation of the news to advance Ailes’ political agenda; provides behind-the-scenes details of Ailes’ crucial role as finder and shaper of talent, including his sometimes rocky relationships with Fox News stars such as O’Reilly and Hannity; and probes Ailes’ fraught partnership with his equally brash and mercurial boss, Rupert Murdoch. Roger Ailes’ life is a story worthy of Citizen Kane. The Loudest Voice in the Room is an extraordinary feat of reportage with a compelling human drama at its heart.

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    The Loudest Voice in the Room

    17.6 hrs • 1/16/14 • Unabridged
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  13. 0 reviews 0 5 4 4 out of 5 stars 4/5
    10.3 hrs • 7/3/2013 • Unabridged

    A riveting and revealing look at the shows that helped cable television drama emerge as the signature art form of the twenty-first century In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the landscape of television began an unprecedented transformation. While the networks continued to chase the lowest common denominator, a wave of new shows, first on premium cable channels like HBO and then basic cable networks like FX and AMC, dramatically stretched television’s narrative inventiveness, emotional resonance, and artistic ambition. No longer necessarily concerned with creating always-likable characters, plots that wrapped up neatly every episode, or subjects that were deemed safe and appropriate, shows such as The Wire, The Sopranos, Mad Men, Deadwood, The Shield, and more tackled issues of life and death, love and sexuality, addiction, race, violence, and existential boredom. Just as the big novel had in the 1960s and the subversive films of New Hollywood had in 1970s, television shows became the place to go to see stories of the triumph and betrayals of the American Dream at the beginning of the twenty-first century. This revolution happened at the hands of a new breed of auteur: the all-powerful writer-showrunner. These were men nearly as complicated, idiosyncratic, and “difficult” as the conflicted protagonists that defined the genre. Given the chance to make art in a maligned medium, they fell upon the opportunity with unchecked ambition. Combining deep reportage with cultural analysis and historical context, Brett Martin recounts the rise and inner workings of a genre that represents not only a new golden age for television but also a cultural watershed. Difficult Men features extensive interviews with all the major players, including David Chase (The Sopranos), David Simon and Ed Burns (The Wire), Matthew Weiner and Jon Hamm (Mad Men), David Milch (NYPD Blue, Deadwood), and Alan Ball (Six Feet Under), in addition to dozens of other writers, directors, studio executives, actors, production assistants, makeup artists, script supervisors, and so on. Martin takes us behind the scenes of our favorite shows, delivering never-before-heard story after story and revealing how cable television has distinguished itself dramatically from the networks, emerging from the shadow of film to become a truly significant and influential part of our culture.

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    Difficult Men by Brett Martin

    Difficult Men

    10.3 hrs • 7/3/13 • Unabridged
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  14. 11.2 hrs • 5/21/2013 • Unabridged

    In The Revolution Was Televised, celebrated television critic Alan Sepinwall chronicles the remarkable transformation of the small screen over the past fifteen years. Focusing on twelve innovative television dramas that changed the medium and the culture at large forever, including The Sopranos, Oz, The Wire, Deadwood, The Shield, Lost, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 24, Battlestar Galactica, Friday Night Lights, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad, Sepinwall weaves his trademark incisive criticism with highly entertaining reporting about the real-life characters and conflicts behind the scenes. Drawing on interviews with writers David Chase, David Simon, David Milch, Joel Surnow and Howard Gordon, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, and Vince Gilligan—along with the network executives responsible for green-lighting these groundbreaking shows—The Revolution Was Televised is the story of a new golden age in television, one that’s as rich with drama and thrills as the very shows themselves.

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    The Revolution Was Televised

    11.2 hrs • 5/21/13 • Unabridged
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  15. 9.8 hrs • 4/23/2013 • Unabridged

    Just as The Late Shift did for late night television, Top of the Morning reveals the dish and dirt behind the polite smiles and perky demeanors of morning television. Readers will be fascinated by the never-before-told, behind-the-scenes stories about the cutthroat battle for first place before dawn. The book is based on all new reporting at the highest levels.

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    Top of the Morning

    9.8 hrs • 4/23/13 • Unabridged
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  16. 9.0 hrs • 4/23/2013 • Unabridged

    Radical connectivity—our ability to connect instantly, constantly, and globally—is altering the exercise of power with dramatic speed and reshaping our biggest institutions. Governments, corporations, centers of knowledge, and expertise are eroding before the power of the individual. In some cases this is a positive development, but as Mele reveals, the promise of the Internet comes with a troubling downside. How do we trust information when journalists are replaced by bloggers, phone videos, and tweets? Will the collapse of two-party government bring us qualified leaders or demagogues and special-interest-controlled politicians? When web-based micro-businesses can out-compete major corporations, who enforces basic regulations on product safety, privacy protection, fraud, and tax collection? Unless we exercise deliberate moral choice over the design and use of technologies, Mele contends, we doom ourselves to a future that tramples human values, renders social structures chaotic, and destroys rather than enhances freedom. Both hopeful and alarming, thought-provoking and passionately-argued, The End of Big is an important book about our present—and our future.

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    The End of Big

    9.0 hrs • 4/23/13 • Unabridged
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